Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday urged the national pharmaceutical industry to acquire international standards of quality control and make the label “Made in Pakistan” a symbol of pride for the country.
Addressing a signing ceremony here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr to make the Drug Regulatory Authority Bill into a law, the President said that the act would ensure availability of safe and quality medical services at affordable prices to the people.He said that the law would help prevent the sale of fake, sub-standard and non-registered medicines and stop hoarding by creating an autonomous drug regulatory authority.
The President gave his assent to the bill at the special ceremony, which was attended among others by Minister for National Regulations and Services Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, federal cabinet members, parliamentarians and representatives of the pharmaceutical companies.
President Zardari said that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto promulgated the first Drug Act of 1976. The credit goes to this coalition government to establish for first time the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) in the country like the developed countries, he added.
He said that the DRA would ensure protection of the interests of the people and the pharma industry. He said that the industry had grown over the past decades and now it was time to take the next step in the technology.
The President stressed the need to broaden base for research
and development and said that bio-technology was the engine of growth of the present century.”Our pharma industry needs to harness this technology and the academia needs to work closely with the industry to ensure timely infusion of related knowledge.”He stressed on the pharma industry to focus on acquiring international standards of quality control and called for adopting corporate culture within the regulatory system.
The President called for expanding the scope of pharma exports and making new advancements in the area.He congratulated the Parliament and all political parties and said that the unanimous adoption of the Drug Regulatory Authority Bill was a sign of wisdom and maturity of the Parliament and all political parties.He said that all the provincial assemblies and governments deserved to be commended for agreeing to permit the federation make the important legislation for the benefit of all. It is a measure of their political maturity, he added.
The President said with the availability of cheap labour, necessary skills and other opportunities, there was no reason Pakistan’s pharmaceutical companies could not make their presence felt in the international markets.He complimented Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan and her team, especially Dr. Suhail Siddiqui, for their commitment and untiring efforts towards materializing such an important legislation.
The President also distributed certificates among various pharmaceutical companies that achieved distinction in various pharma related fields.
Later briefing the media persons, spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that a conscious and deliberate effort was made during the past several months to involve all the stakeholders in the finalization of the Drug Regulation Authority Bill.He said that the Pharmaceutical Association, the Pharma Bureau and the Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association in addition to the standing committees of the National Assembly and Senate were included in the broad-based consultation and dialogue process to arrive at a consensus.
Minister for National Regulations and Services Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, in her speech, said that the DRA had been designed along the lines of such bodies in advanced countries like the US and Canada to protect the interests of the patients, the pharma industry and officials working in the authority.She said that the pharma industry in the country had grown over the past decades, from just a few manufacturing units at the time of independence, to over 600 well developed units.She said that the PPP leadership supported the underpriveliged by bridging the gap between the rich and the poor and provision of quality drugs at affordable rates was part of the manifesto of the PPP in the 2008 general election.
Dr Firdous said that the government was working on a strategy for the Drug Pricing Policy, the Policy of Import and Export of Drugs, and low markup on export of drugs financing.